Friday, May 30, 2014

::DAY 10: Kirche & Town-Hopping::

The church bells rung a 'hurry-up' and streams of people walked the cobblestones to St. Paulskirche for morning service. We were among them. Church is a real event in tiny Dinkelsbuhl. They shut down roads to accommodate the crowds. No, we didn't understand a word. But we sang our hearts out, mangling half the words. I'm sure.
The afternoon was spent meandering through the countryside, passing through as many tiny towns as we could. Commonalities: Steepled churches, red-tiled roofs & maypoles. Spotting the slender, bowing and bending poles became a game.

May Day comes from the Celtic festival of Beltaine, which was aimed at encouraging fields and crops and trees to produce well. Now, May Day is just a fun way to celebrate the end of the long, dark winter nights.

"The beauty of a town's maypole is a matter of pride. "Experts" carefully select and fell a tall, beautiful tree. Artisans paint and decorate the maypole, complete with craftsmen's crests, a wreath and long ribbons for the dance. The men of the town raise the maypole on April 30, a sometimes difficult job because they can be as tall as 90 feet. The men use a system of hoists made of smaller, stripped-bare trees to heave the pole into place.

Climbing of the maypole is another matter of pride. Men show off their prowess by shimmying up the tall, polished tree without the benefit of handholds.

Rival towns typically try to steal other towns' maypoles. This happens so frequently that towns have started guarding their maypoles from the time the tree is felled until the end of May Day festivities. The best known theft involved a helicopter and "copious" amounts of beer and food as ransom."

Nordlingen is a town built inside a meteor crater. We walked the entire way around it's wall.
The castle perched on the cliff in Harburg drew us in. The question was, how to reach it? Lots, and lots of climbing.
 What a beautiful country. Every town is a gem.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

::DAY 9: A Feast for the Eyes-- and Stomach::

A day to explore our little town. Dinkelsbuhl was first settled in the 700's, but wasn't given Imperial city status until the 1300's. That was when a wall was built around the entire town. Somehow, the town was untouched by both World Wars, making it one of the best preserved medieval towns in Germany. Have I mentioned how stunning this place is?

A few local treats: schneeballen, or "snowballs," potato pancakes, and a local beer called Dinkelsbuhler. The snowballs ranged in size from tennis balls, to large grapefruit. No one spoke much English at all, but we soon became adept at pointing and holding up fingers to indicate quantity.

Monday, May 26, 2014

::DAY 8: From Straat to Straße::

We said goodbye to our bungalow in Hellendoorn, Netherlands. . .
. . . and crossed the border into Germany, accompanied by our tiny clompen-wearing Dutch mascott. It was a beautiful drive, as the flatland gradually rose into hills dotted with red roofs and church spires. But it was a long drive:

Kid 1: "What am I thinking of?"
a. They're black and tiny.
b. There are lots of them on the highway.
c. Every car has them.
d. They come out of teh car when it's not driving.
e. Every car needs them.

Other Kids: "Um. . ."

Kid 1: "Pupils!" {As in, eyeball pupil-- and he says this as though it were the most self-evident thing in the world.}
Kid 2: "What am I thinking of?"

a. It can be any colour.
b. It can't move unless you move it.
c. You can wear it.
d. It can be big or small.

Other Kids: "Huh?"

Kid 2: "The Number 6."

A long, long drive it was.
Stopped for our first German meal in Wurzburg: Sausages, creamed cabbage, schnitzel, potato pancakes. 

It was really hard to leave without stopping in at the glittering Residenz, but like I said, it was a long drive.
Our home for one week was in the medieval, walled-town of Dinkelsbuhl. We passed under the stone tower, and into another world where everything was a thousand years old. That first day, we didn't get far before calling it a night. This is our street:
The wonderful woman whose house we were calling home met us with a homemade offering. It could not have been more welcome as we tried to settle in.